I’m not going to lie. This pose is one of my least favorites. But chair pose (utkatasana in Sanskrit) is an integral part of Sun Salutation B (Surya Namaskar B), as well as a great foundational pose to build strength and stamina.
getting into chair pose (utkatasana)
- From tadasana, bring your big toes and your knees together to touch. Bend your knees, sink your hips low, and reach your arms up toward the sky.
working within chair pose (utkatasana)
- Keep your arms shoulder-width distance, your palms coming together to touch. If palms touching is too much on the shoulders, simply face palms toward one another and keep shoulder-width distance.
- Reach through the arms and pull heart up to achieve lift
- Shoulder blades come down the back as the spine stretches up
- Draw shoulders down to create space in the neck and add a source of support for the upper back
- If it’s ok on the neck, keep gaze toward thumbs – this is traditionally done to facilitate a natural lift in the pose
- Reach through fingertips to maintain sense of liftedness
mid & lower body
- Deepen the flexion in hips, knees, ankles
- Hug everything in toward the midline
- Heavy the femurs (thigh bones)
- Tailbone is slightly tucked or neutral – be aware of any excess arch in the low back
- Stretch the Achilles’ tendon and calf up
- Draw the tops of your thighs down, lift hips and abdomen away from your thighs
- Create a strong upward stretch in the torso – try to keep your torso lifting back toward vertical (it’s going to want to cave forward as your hips flex)
- Draw your low belly in toward the spine to deepen the bend in the hips
chair pose (utkatasana) modifications
- For more space (and less of a balance challenge!), when setting up the pose, keep knees and feet hip-width distance instead of coming together to touch.
- Take a block between the thighs to work on hugging the whole body in toward the midline and maintaining internal rotation of the thighs
- See any of the IG photos on the page for more fun modifications – tip toes, twists, etc.
chair pose (utkatasana) benefits
- Strengthens thighs and ankles
- Stretches Achilles’ tendons & shins
- Opens & stretches the chest
chair pose (utkatasana) contraindications
- High blood pressure – do not raise the arms overhead, instead, keep palms at hips
- Knee problems – pose can be practiced with backside toward the wall for added stability and support